Publish date:

Authorities say tanker truck driver was not trying to harm protesters on I-35W bridge in Minneapolis

Gov. Walz said the driver feels lucky that he wasn't killed.
Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 5.51.01 PM

The driver of a tanker truck that sped towards thousands of protesters Sunday evening on the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis was not intentionally trying to injure or kill people, according to an update from state leaders on Monday. 

"We have not had any information that makes this seem like this was an intentional act," said John Harrington, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

"We do have some info that he was speeding," explained Harrington. "We do have some info that he saw the crowd and initially he panicked and he just kept barreling forward.

"Then he saw a young woman on a bike fall down in front of him and he slammed on the brakes. And he slid until the vehicle stopped."

Gov. Tim Walz said the driver, 35-year-old Bogdan Vechirko, "feels incredibly lucky that he did not kill someone," adding that even though he was assaulted after stopping the 18-wheeler he "is really lucky Minnesota showed some of their better angels and he did not get killed."

Video from the incident revealed that many peaceful protesters were trying to protect Vechirko before handing him over to police, who arrived on the bridge within minutes. 

Vechirko was treated at a local hospital and then taken into custody and booked into the Hennepin County Jail on Sunday night. It's unclear yet if he'll face any criminal charges. 

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Harrington said the driver was already on the freeway when MnDOT was rushing to close entrance ramps in a last-minute decision to shut down freeways and highways in and out of Minneapolis and St. Paul due to protesters marching on the interstates. 

"We know that the driver of the tanker truck was on the freeway already. He was on 94 already and he turned onto 35 before we got barricades or trucks there to block off his access to 35. This was his second run of the day. He was running empty, there was no fuel in that tanker truck," said Harrington.

The freeways and highways in and out of Minneapolis and St. Paul were originally planned to be closed at 8 p.m., with the late decision made to shut them down by 5 p.m. to protect protesters on the major arteries. 

Next Up

Joel Eriksson Ek

Eriksson Ek's hat trick completes Wild's rally over Jets

A late review helped the Wild win their home opener.

Screen Shot 2021-10-19 at 8.11.35 PM

Watch: Marcus Foligno starts fight with a superman punch

Foligno was not messing around in the first period.

Union Gospel Mission graffiti side by side - Duluth PD

Vandals target longstanding Duluth soup kitchen, transitional housing site

Union Gospel Mission has been operating in the city since 1922.

i-94 crash st. michael - 2021.10.19

At least 1 dead after 'serious crash' on I-94 in St. Michael

That side of the highway is expected to be closed for at least a few hours.

House for sale

The crazy Twin Cities housing market is showing signs of slowing down

Agents are seeing fewer multiple offers and no inspections are less prevalent.

Ben Simmons

Simmons' reunion with 76ers lasts mere days, chance for Wolves?

Woj says the Sixers remain "steadfast" in their plans for Simmons.

mitchell ottinger

Sub teacher involved in 'sextortion' of more than 10 minors pleads guilty

Some of the minors he knew from the school district where he worked.

flickr ice castles new brighton 2020 - Greg Gjerdingen

The Ice Castles, a winter favorite, are coming back to the Twin Cities

The popular attraction was canceled last winter due to COVID.

joey meatballs

4 new vendors coming to Rosedale's POTLUCK food hall

Three restaurants and a VR company are opening soon.

flickr - Lorie Shaull - Line 3 pipeline Palisade July 2021

Enbridge misses deadline to fix its groundwater blunder

The company had 30 days to stop the leak it caused by not following its submitted plans.

wikimedia commons - the beach boys 2019 - joergens.mi

Beach Boys bringing 2021 holiday tour to Minnesota

The iconic band's "Holiday Harmonies" tour stops at Treasure Island just before the new year.


Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 5.51.01 PM

Watch: Tanker truck speeds towards protesters on I-35W bridge

The frightening scene unfolded just before 6 p.m.

Bogdan Vechirko

Tanker truck driver released from custody pending further investigation

Bogdan Vechirko was arrested after the terrifying incident on I-35W Sunday.

Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 5.48.13 PM

Trucker who drove toward protesters on I-35W bridge charged with felony

The 35-year-old from Otsego is also facing a gross misdemeanor charge.

Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 5.48.13 PM

Sauk Rapids releases 2 firefighters over offensive comments on protests

Both the firefighters made comments or shared posts suggesting protesters should be killed.

protesters, George Floyd, protest

MN mayor resigns after sharing meme of violence against protestors

The mayor of eight years said his sharing of the meme was taken out of context.

Screen Shot 2020-05-29 at 9.32.57 PM

George Floyd: Protesters march on I-35W in Minneapolis

The protesters are blocking traffic heading south.

Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 9.35.56 PM

Police surround protesters, arrest crowd of 150 in Minneapolis

The group was surrounded by a large group of officers.